Song birds can make a welcome addition to the garden. Whether you enjoy watching birds or just enjoy the lovely lilt of their songs, creating a landscape that both welcomes the feathered friends and helps keep them safe requires some planning. These strategies can help make your yard more bird-friendly.
Strategy #1: Bird House Safety
Birds need shelter for safety, nesting and sleeping. Bird houses are an attractive way to meet these needs. The type of bird house depends on the type of birds in your area or that you want to encourage to take up residence in your yard.
Birds that live in colonies, such as martins, will quickly take up residence in large, multi-unit birdhouses. Finches and other small songbirds may prefer single-family birdhouses. Whichever type you choose, the safety and health of the birds must come first.
Hang bird houses high enough so that cats and other predators can't easily reach them. Make sure there are no branches or nearby structures that provide a predator with easy access.
Clean out the bird house in the winter when the inhabitants have flown to a warmer climate. Dirty bird houses can harbor mites and disease organisms.
Don't disturb a bird house after the birds have taken up residence in it. Watch and enjoy the birds from afar.
Strategy #2: Provide Some Water and Food
No matter how many houses or delectable plants you offer, the birds may not come if there isn't a water source. A shallow bird bath, no more than 1 or 2 inches deep, is plenty for most birds. If your bath is deeper, place some large, flat stones in the center to give the birds something to stand on as they bathe. You will need to change the water daily to avoid algae and mosquito problems.
Although some birds feed on insects, many are seed feeders. Hanging bird feeders, well out of reach of predators, provides a ready food source. Make sure the seed mix you use is well-suited to the types of birds in your area. If you want to attract hummingbirds, red hummingbird feeders filled with artificial nectar will draw them in.
Strategy #3: Bird-Friendly Plants
Although some birds feed on the seeds of your garden plants, most are there for the insects. Almost any plant with aromatic, brightly colored flowers will attract the insects – and the birds – to your yard. For birds that feed on nectar, consider planting fuchsias or honeysuckle. Hummingbirds are especially drawn to these plants.
Strategy #4: Welcome Winter Visitors
Not all birds fly south for the winter. Plants that look attractive after they go to seed provide winter forage for many birds. Coneflowers, black-eyed susans, and many ornamental grasses feature attractive seed heads with plenty of seed for the birds. Sunflowers are another excellent option for providing winter feed.
Inviting the local birds into your garden can make it a much more enjoyable place to spend your time. The birds will also help control insect populations, including mosquitoes, which makes your plants healthier and helps keep the outdoors more comfortable for people, too. Consider consulting a professional landscaping company, such as CNC Lawn Care, Inc, for more elaborate approaches.